Founded in 1932 by Luigi Fontana, owner of an important glass manufacturing company, and Gio’ Ponti, FontanaArte immediately set out upon a well-defined path of research: use new languages to express the potential of a material like glass, whose identity had been completely transformed thanks to the technical possibilities offered by modern industry.
Continually experimenting with new ways of defining contemporary decoration, Gio’ Ponti found in Pietro Chiesa* the perfect travelling companion. Together, the two rapidly turned FontanaArte into one of the most important players in the elaboration of early modernity for Italian home furnishing accessories.
This research was fuelled by collaborations with a large number of top-level artists and found fertile ground in the interior design for large middle-class homes, real experimental laboratories where models for subsequent series production could be perfected.
The end of World War Two coincided with a radical change in Italy’s social and cultural scenario. The new condition called for a reorganization of production and redefinition of products.
The extraordinary articles designed for the scale of large middle-class homes had to be replaced by items more suited to the smaller volume of apartments. The traditional elite clientele was now joined by a new kind of customer.
While staying close to the company, Gio’ Ponti was no longer its Art Director. In 1954 this position was filled by Max Ingrand*, under whose guidance FontanaArte moved slowly but surely towards modernization.
Called back as artistic director in 1967, Gio’ Ponti managed to summarize the sense of the direction taken in several lamps: the Pirelli series, Bilia and the Cartocci are still today totally perfect models.
After a brief hazy period, FontanaArte was purchased in 1979 by a group of private entrepreneurs, who entrusted operational and administrative management of the company to Carlo Guglielmi. The decision was immediately made to shift production once again towards the quality of products and modern design culture.
In 2010, FontanaArte was purchased by Nice spa, an international group in the sector of Home Automation.
In 2012 FontanaArte celebrated its eightieth anniversary and that year brought further important achievements for the floor lamp Yumi designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban: it was selected for the ADI Design Index and nominated Best of Year in the lighting category by the American magazine Interior Design.
In the same year, the artistic direction was entrusted to Giorgio Biscaro, from Vercelli, class of 1978, who, returning to the origins of the lesson by Gio´ Ponti on the home that lives, and backed by the glorious history of FontanaArte, directed the new collection of lamps presented at Euroluce 2013.
A collection that is the result of collaboration with a new generation of international designers and the use of non-conventional materials for FontanaArte, but above all which pays special attention to the interaction between the person and light.